Database for Offshore Drilling Needed: BSEE

Thursday, August 21, 2014 @ 02:08 PM gHale

The offshore drilling industry needs to develop a comprehensive public database to help improve safety and prevent spills in federal waters, officials said.

“Currently individual operators are collecting a lot of the data we need to properly assess risk, but that information isn’t being shared,” said Brian Salerno, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). “Everyone is working in their own silo, collecting and using information for their own operations.”

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Salerno said offshore oil and gas operators, as well as regulators, lack “big picture data” and incidents, such as certain equipment failures. He added no one is sharing the information. Information sharing is more important now than ever as offshore drilling expands into new areas in the Arctic or potentially off the U.S. East Coast.

“Wouldn’t it be incredibly valuable to have more information for these operations in new frontier areas that carry great economic potential, but also carry great risk?” Salerno said at the Ocean Energy Safety Institute forum.

Salerno said there are obstacles to creating this database, such as sharing proprietary information and a lack of standard formatting. He did add, however, he does not want regulators to mandate such a database.

“We don’t want a regulatory solution and prefer that industry tackle this,” he said.

BSEE plans to finalize several new offshore safety programs and standards this year, including a “near-miss” data collection program designed to give regulators access to information on accidents offshore operators previously would not have reported.

Under the system, modeled on a similar system to track near-miss incidents in the airline industry, offshore operators will voluntarily and anonymously report incidents it otherwise would not end up required to report.

Salerno said there is not an equal safety culture at all offshore oil and gas companies in the four years since BP’s Macondo disaster and some Gulf of Mexico operators continue to do only the bare minimum to prevent a future drilling disaster.

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